Late last month we published system benchmarks of Ubuntu 7.04 through 8.10 and had found -- at least with the Intel notebook we were using -- that the performance had degraded with time. This article had then resulted in benchmarks of Fedora 7 through 10 and most recently were Mac OS X 10.5 vs. Ubuntu 8.10 benchmarks. In our original article we hadn't focused much upon the graphics tests and we were just using ATI's binary driver, but per a request from Canonical's Bryce Harrington, we have carried out some open-source graphics tests on Ubuntu 7.04 through 8.10 and we started with the ATI performance.
We had used the 32-bit versions of Ubuntu 7.04, Ubuntu 7.10, Ubuntu 8.04, and Ubuntu 8.10 for testing. Our test system hardware for this article was made up of an Intel Core 2 Duo E6400, ASRock Conroe1333-DVI/H, 2GB of OCZ DDR2-800MHz memory, 200GB Seagate ST3200826AS HDD, and the graphics card was an R430-based ATI Radeon X800XL with 256MB of video memory.
To recap the relevant package versions in each release, Ubuntu 7.04 shipped with the Linux 2.6.20 kernel, X.Org 7.2, and Mesa 6.5.2. Ubuntu 7.10 had upgraded the kernel to Linux 2.6.22, X.Org 7.2 with the X Server 1.3 release, and Mesa 7.0.1. Ubuntu 8.04, which was a Canonical LTS release, shipped with the Linux 2.6.24 kernel, X.Org 7.3 with the X Server 1.4.1 pre-release, and Mesa 7.0.3. The 8.10 release of Ubuntu provides the Linux 2.6.27 kernel, X.Org 7.4 with X Server 1.5.2, and Mesa 7.2.
For powering these Mesa graphics tests on Ubuntu we had used the Phoronix Test Suite with the Nexuiz, Tremulous, Urban Terror, Unreal Tournament 2004 Demo, and x11perf tests. Results from Nexuiz on Ubuntu 7.04 were not available as the game had experienced missing textures and crashed within a few seconds of starting. The OpenArena test also failed with the ATI Mesa stack even using the most recent bits with Ubuntu 8.10. As always, standard benchmarking practices were applied.